Sligo Weekender Radio licence case adjourned for three weeks
Sligo Weekender – February 3rd 2004
Radio licence case adjourned for three weeks
The full story of North West Radio’s grounds for appealing the BCI decision not to renew their radio licence will not be heard until the end of this month. Tuesday, February 24 has been set as the date for NWR’s judicial review to reconvene after it became apparent that the case would last longer than the two days allocated for it in Kings Inn, Dublin. Presiding Judge Purch heard the outline of the difficulties NWR have with the decision of the BCI to award the Sligo, North Leitrim, South Donegal licence to Ocean FM instead of themselves. On Thursday Senior Counsel for NWR, James O’Reilly delivered the station’s case, questioning the transparency of the BCI’s decision and decision making process. The chief focus of the case for North West Radio is the slow reaction of the BCI to their request for the minutes of a meeting held on April 29, 2003 at which the Commission agreed to award the licence to Ocean. According to Mr O’Reilly the minutes and the feedback eventually supplied to NWR by the BCI outlining their reason not to renew the licence did not comply with the BCI’s own guidelines for assessing a licence. He claimed the original minutes could not be produced in court because the transcript had been shredded by the secretary of the BCI. Mr O’Reilly also highlighted the four week wait NWR endured before the BCI gave, in a written form, the feedback and the minutes from the meeting of April 29 last. He referred to the feedback, which was described by the CEO of the BCI Michael O’Keeffe in a letter to NWR as a complete document, for the reasons for rejection. Mr O’Reilly claimed it was a bland document and the reasons for rejection were not even numbered by the BCI in it. The Broadcasting Commission are denying that they did not fulfil their own criteria in discussing the renewal or non renewal of the radio licence to NWR. A spokesperson for the commission said each member discussed each item under its own headings and it was, they said, a collegiate discussion. Mr O’Reilly said the only evidence that the commission had followed their own proceedings was the copy of the feedback and the minutes of the meeting, which he argued did not reflect that level of discussion. The case will resume on Tuesday, February 24.